On Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018 about thirty-five Companions visited the 6 acre National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas, the boyhood home of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. The museum is dedicated exclusively to the Pacific Theater battles of World War II. It is the only museum in the Continental United States centered on World War II's Pacific campaign.
The conning tower and foc'sle of USS Pintado (SS-387) was at the main museum entrance. Pintado was commissioned 1 January 1944 and conducted 6 war patrols in the Pacific where she was credited with sinking 13 ships of 98,600 tons, and damaging two additional vessels, one a 28,000 ton aircraft carrier to score a total of 34,300 tons.
The George H.W. Bush Gallery exhibitions vividly conveyed the shock and destruction of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941… “a date which will live in infamy.” The displays provided high impact experiences, and central to the experience was a spectacular artifact — the HA-19, one of five Japanese two-man subs that took part in the attack. The HA 19 (also known as Japanese Midget Submarine "C" by the US Navy) is a historic Imperial Japanese Navy Type A Kō-hyōteki-class midget submarine. This submarine was ordered to enter Pearl Harbor then attack the American warships with its torpedoes and then be scuttled with explosives next to a warship. However, she did not enter the harbor, and was grounded and captured.
The story of the Pacific War is told through media-rich presentations, meaningful testimonials and historically significant artifacts. The Gallery's state-of-the-art 33,000 square foot exhibition features 40 media installations, approximately 900 artifacts in 97 climate-controlled cases, 15 macro-artifacts, and hundreds of photographs. It is clear that the Pacific Theater was not a sideshow to the war in Europe, but a conflict that affected the course of world history. The displays enabled us to go island to island with the marines and soldiers as they fight their way to ensure America's freedom. Sail with the U.S Navy Pacific Fleet as they battle for the seas of the pacific.
The outdoor Plaza of the Presidents is a tribute to the ten United States Presidents who served during World War II: Franklin D. Roosevelt (Commander in Chief), Harry S. Truman (Commander in Chief), General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower (Army), John F. Kennedy (Navy), Lyndon B. Johnson (Navy), Richard Nixon (Navy), Gerald Ford (Navy), Jimmy Carter (Navy), Ronald Reagan (Army) and George H. W. Bush (Navy).
The Japanese Garden of Peace, a gift of the Japanese government was designed by Taketora Saita as a replica of the private garden of Gensui The Marquis Tōgō (1848–1934), the main Imperial Japanese Navy commander in the Russo-Japanese War.
The hotel owned by Nimitz's grandfather Charles Henry Nimitz was restored to its original design and renamed the Admiral Nimitz Museum. It chronicles the story of Fleet Admiral Nimitz beginning with his life as a young boy through his naval career as well as the evolution of the old hotel.
On Wednesday, about twenty Companions visited the Briscoe Western Art Museum which presents art and artifacts from across the history and cultures of the American West: over five centuries, from the Spanish conquest to the present day. It brings to life the vibrant culture and heritage of the Western United States through a permanent collection of Western art and artifacts related to the American cowboy, American Indian, the Vaquero, pioneering women and the many diverse groups that forged the American West. Highlights of the museum include Pancho Villa’s last known saddle, an interactive diorama of the Alamo conflict, a restored chuck wagon, and Santa Anna’s ceremonial sword. It was a nice complement to our interest in naval history that gave us a glimpse of the western spirit.
Several committees met to discuss ongoing efforts, plans for the upcoming year and other issues that were reported out on during the General Session. Most importantly, the hospitality suite was opened that evening where companions renewed relationships with old friends and established new friendships.
On Thursday we started the day with the remaining committee meetings before about forty-five Companions visited the 5 acre site of the Alamo, one of the most popular historic sites in the United States. We toured the chapel, as well as the Long Barracks, which contains a small museum with paintings, weapons, and other artifacts from the era of the Texas Revolution. Additional artifacts are displayed in another complex building, alongside a large diorama that recreates the compound as it existed in 1836. A large mural, known as the Wall of History, portrays the history of the Alamo complex from its mission days to modern times.
That evening the Commander General’s Reception provided yet another opportunity for Companions to socialize and enjoy each other’s company. Afterward several companions regrouped at the hospitality suite to continue socializing.
On Friday, after a terrific continental breakfast, the 2019 Congress was officially called to order, colors were presented by the San Antonio’s John Marshall High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Unit, and followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and Invocation by Our Chaplain General, CDR Michael Zuffoletto, Chaplain Corps, USN (Ret); better known to most of us as Father Mike.
The first order of business was the “Tolling of the Bell” ceremony, a unique and time-honored memorial that is in keeping with the finest traditions of our naval services, to honor the memory of our Companions who perished since the last Congress. Fifty-nine companions were recognized by the Parliamentarian General CAPT Fran McDonald, USN (Ret) as the bell is tolled for each in turn by our Master-At-Arms, LCDR Steven Sinclair, USN (Ret), and followed by a moment of silence/reflection. The tolling of the bell reminds us of the debt of gratitude we owe to our departed companions. We shall never forget them or their service.
Our entire membership comprises the General Commandery which to date has included nearly 10,000 members. About 80 companions and their guests listened to several National Officers’ reports on their accomplishments over the past year and plans for the next.
Our first presentation, “A SEAL Plank Owner’s Vietnam Experience, 1964-1975” was made by CAPT Robert “Pete” Peterson, USN (Ret). SEALs trained river patrol forces to disrupt Viet Cong river logistics, continuously adapting their tactics to achieve maximum effectiveness. CAPT Peterson shared several vignettes, highlighting personal risks and ingenuity, and the invaluable work done by locals to assist the SEALs in their mission as well as ongoing risks and suffering during the North Vietnamese takeover. CAPT Peterson noted that SEAL experiences and lessons learned in Vietnam formed the basis for operations and specialization by current SEAL Teams such as the one that took down Osama Bin Laden.
A luncheon to honor the Distinguished Sea Service Senior Enlisted Awardee and recognize the Naval Order Commandery for superior accomplishments during 2018 was held in the San Antonio Banquet room.
The Distinguished Sea Service Senior Enlisted Award was presented to SgtMaj Angela M. Maness, USMC (Ret). This prestigious award recognizes a United States senior enlisted member of our naval services who, over their total career, distinguished themselves and the naval services, such that sets them apart from their peers as one who stands "First Among Firsts," an individual who represents the finest qualities of leadership, commitment to duty and performance. The Senior Enlisted Award is named in honor of our late distinguished companion and World War II veteran, Chief Petty Officer Howard Snell, USN (Ret). Col. Allan Cruz, USMC (Ret), our Commander General-Elect, read the citation. SgtMaj Maness graciously accepted the award; recognizing significant persons, events and opportunities that contributed to her extraordinary career.
RADM Douglas Moore, USN (Ret), Chairman of the Awards Committee described the Lee Douglas Award, recognized the outstanding efforts of all commanderies, and presented the 2018 Award to CAPT Robert Whitkop, USN (Ret), Commander of the Florida First Coast Commandery. CAPT Whitkop accepted the award on behalf of the Commandery and recognized the hard work of the many outstanding Companions whose extraordinary efforts contributed to the award.
Companion Mr. Don Kehn’s presentation entitled “Be of Good Courage: Asiatic Fleet four-pipers at Balikpapan, 1942” depicted the first Navy surface action since the Spanish-American War where four small and technically obsolete World War I vintage destroyers, USS Parrot, USS Pope, USS Paul Jones and USS John Ford, assisted by the Dutch submarine K-18 conducted a nighttime surprise attack on Japanese transports, destroyers and patrol boats at anchor. While the material impact of the attack was minimal, the boost to allied morale was significant given the dismal state of the United States Asiatic Fleet and assertive Japanese operations in the region.
Companion CWO3 Anthony Atwood, USN (Ret) then spoke about the Miami Military Museum & Memorial titled “This Old Headquarters…Returning NAS Richmond to Service” recounting the history of the Richmond Headquarters Building in its transition from military service during World War II to covert operations during the Cold War to an exhibition of its history and a transition to modern naval operations in the region. The museum opened in September 2018 and has become a center of gravity for the Naval Order’s Southeast Florida Commandery.
On Saturday, after breakfast the remaining National Officer reports on accomplishments over the past year and plans for the next were presented.
CAPT Marc Liebman, USN (Ret.) discussed his experiences as a helicopter pilot conducting “Combat Search & Rescue (CSAR) In and Around North Vietnam.” CAPT Liebman shared compelling stories to detail CSAR platforms and equipment, personnel, operations, tactics and challenges. He discussed the evolution of CSAR from Korea to Vietnam including the greater reliance on pilot discretion for the Navy to conduct inland CSAR operations which entail greater risk but are essential in the joint warfighting environment.
A luncheon to honor the Naval Order’s Admiral of the Navy George Dewey Awardee was held in the San Antonio Banquet room. It was also an opportunity for presentation of the Navy Supply Corps Foundation Distinguished Alumni Award.
The Admiral of the Navy George Dewey Award was presented to Companion Marshall P. Cloyd. This award recognizes a United States civilian eligible for regular membership in the Naval Order whose record of exemplary service sets him/her apart from his/her peers and who is an individual representing the finest qualities of leadership, commitment to duty and performance. CAPT Woe King, USN (Ret) introduced Mr. Cloyd and CAPT Chuck Hewell, USN (Ret), Immediate Past Commander of the Texas Commandery, read the citation. Mr. Cloyd graciously accepted the award; sharing a personal glimpse of noteworthy circumstances, events, opportunities, and persons associated with his remarkable career.
RADM Michael Lyden, SC, USN (Ret), the Vice Chair of the Navy Supply Corps Foundation presented RADM Douglas Moore, SC, USN (Ret) with the 2017Navy Supply Corps Foundation Distinguished Alumni Award. RADM Lyden described the award and recounted RADM Moore’s service leading to his selection. RADM Moore cordially accepted the award, recognized influential mentors and colleagues, and disclosed several significant, and in most cases humorous events from his extraordinary career.
Following the luncheon, 2004 Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature recipient and Companion James Hornfischer spoke about his most recent book “The Fleet at Flood Tide” with a presentation entitled “Revelation and Reckoning: The Mariana Islands Campaign & Victory in the Pacific War”. The discussion covered fighting for the Marianas islands (Saipan, Guam, and Tinian) and the bombings of Japan made possible by those victories, the horrific firebombing of major cities and the culmination in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Distinguished Sea Service Award Reception and Banquet were the culmination of our 2018 Congress. This award recognizes a United States naval officer who, over their total career, distinguished themselves and the naval services, such that they should be singled out as one who stands "First Among Firsts," an individual who represents the finest qualities of leadership, commitment to duty and performance. The Distinguished Sea Service Award recipient is chosen from among the most senior officers of our naval services who retired during the last three years and whose record of service while on active duty sets them apart from their peers.
After a tribute to fallen and missing shipmates and a terrific dinner, the Distinguished Sea Service Award was presented to ADM James A. Winnefeld, Jr., USN (Ret) who graciously accepted the award, recounted the events of September 11th, 2001 aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the eighth United States naval vessel to bear that name, and his address to the crew, notifying them of the terrorist attack as the ship was put into position to strike back.
After a series of toasts to USS Constitution, the 6 maritime services and the United States - "One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, one nation evermore" the business of the 2018 Annual Naval Order Congress was concluded. The Naval Order will next meet in Boston, the birthplace of the Naval Order and homeport of our honorary flagship, USS Constitution on October 23, 2019.
Don’t miss the camaraderie at the next Congress, held in Boston 22-27 October, 2019